10 of running’s biggest bloopers

Untimely tumbles, wrong turns, public pee breaks and the sound of breaking glass. Strange things can happen when you go for a run. Words: Danny Coyle
1 Squatter’s rightsThe 2005 London Marathon was an opportunity for Paula Radcliffe to restore her name at the top of women’s distance running. Her 2004 Olympic challenge had ended in tears when she wilted in the Athenian heat. But back on home turf she was striding clear of the field. Then she slowed, pulled over to the curb and, on live TV, squatted in the gutter for a comfort break.2 Heads you winKenyan runner Robert Cheruiyot must have been so bored with winning comfortably in major races that to spice things up a bit he decided on the rather unusual tactic of falling flat on his back as he was about to breast the tape. He’d perfected it for the 2006 Chicago marathon. Watch it online and feel his pain as head meets concrete. 3 Mary deckedOne way to irk a stadium full of partisan Americans is to crock their golden girl in her quest for Olympic gold. British runner Zola Budd did just that. After controversially gaining UK citizenship in order to compete, the South African-born barefoot 3,000m star took a tumble during the Los Angeles final and brought Decker down with her. Budd carried on to raucous booing and was so put off by the crowd reaction could only finish seventh. Decker couldn’t recover and and blamed Budd forever more.4 Smashing recordsBill Rodgers was quite the runner in his day and it took a lot to knock the American off his stride. That didn’t stop a dog trying his best in 1975 during a ten-mile race in Massachusetts. As the dog decided to make Rodgers’ legs his lunch, the runner veered off the road and scooped up a rock which he bounced off the mutt’s head. It then went careering through its owner’s front room window. Rodgers was so freaked out he put on a burst of speed and won the race in a new course record.5 Empire stateBritish marathon runner Jim Peters was on target for gold in the 1954 Empire Games in Vancouver when he reached the stadium 20 minutes ahead of the next man. But it was a hot day and Peters had run the whole way with no water. He fell several times near the finish, but no one came to his aid until it became clear he was never going to make it. After medical treatment he asked if he’d won. ‘You did very well,’ said a nurse. He hadn’t.6 Daddy not coolThey say we love a loser in the UK, and it was never truer than in 1992 when 400m runner Derek Redmond pulled up like he’d been shot in the hamstring during the Olympic final in Barcelona. It was cruel enough, but insult was added to injury when his dad - a portly chap handily dressed in a well-known sporting brand’s apparel - shambled onto the track to help his boy over the line. It could only have been worse if it had been school sports day.7 Unlucky JimIn an NFL fixture in 1964 the Minnesota Vikings were leading the San Francisco 49ers 27-17 in the fourth quarter, when the 49ers fumbled the ball. Jim Marshall, of the Vikings, picked it up and started running. He reached the end zone comfortably, nonchalantly tossing the ball away to soak up the crowd’s adulation. Then it hit him. He had run 60 yards the wrong way, and gifted the 49ers two points. 8 Wrong turnDuring the 1981 Portsmouth Market Place 10K in New Hampshire, USA, seasoned pro Tom Derderian lay in third place as the race course reached an intersection, Derderian set off in pursuit of the two men ahead of him, except he took the wrong turn at the junction, and was followed by hundreds of other runners. Derderian’s crooked sense of direction added two minutes to the route and led his chasing pack to the finish line from the wrong direction. 9 Horse playRunning faux pas are not confined to those in the thick of it. Legend of the microphone David Coleman virtually invented the commentary clanger. At the 1976 Montreal Olympics, Cuban 400 and 800m runner Alberto Juantorena was on his way to a gold double when Coleman came out with the immortal line: “And there goes Juantorena down the back straight, opening his legs and showing his class.” The big Cuban was nicknamed ‘El Caballo’ - The Horse.10 Hurdling hellHaving just stormed home to 400m hurdles Commonwealth gold in Christchurch, New Zealand, Alan Pascoe decided to continue the show for the crowd by attempting a couple of barriers on the home straight from the wrong side. He failed to jump the same one twice, both times landing with a resounding thump on his back. He’s a multi-millionaire these days. Who’s laughing now?


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